Plans to remove mink revealed at website launch

A raft designed to detect and then trap mink is launched at the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre. From left: Richard Averiss (Ranger), Tony Andrews (Chairman  River South Esk Catchment Partnership), Ann-Marie MacMaster (Scottish Mink initiative), DR Marshall Haliday (E.R.F.T.) .

A raft designed to detect and then trap mink is launched at the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre. From left: Richard Averiss (Ranger), Tony Andrews (Chairman River South Esk Catchment Partnership), Ann-Marie MacMaster (Scottish Mink initiative), DR Marshall Haliday (E.R.F.T.) .

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PLANS to tackle the numbers of wild mink along the South Esk have been unveiled as part of a project to deal with invasive species in the area.

The implementation of the Scottish Mink Initiative within the river’s catchment area will begin this year. The project is the largest ever initiative to remove breeding American mink from the north of Scotland.

It aims to create a 7,700 square mile safe haven for native wildlife in rural Tayside, Aberdeenshire, Moray, the Cairngorms and the Highlands. Invasive species are one of the biggest threats to native biodiversity and the safe zone will be established to protect native wildlife, such as water voles, ground nesting birds and economically important populations of salmon and game birds.

The measures were revealed at the launch at the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre last week of the River South Esk Catchment Partnership’s new website, set up to keep the public abreast of the group’s activities.

Its major achievements have included a catchment-wide invasive weed eradication project. Large swathes of the area were treated by late October last year and more than one million square feet of Giant Hogweed and 150,000 square feet of Japanese Knotweed were sprayed in the main areas of infestation. The project, led by the Esk Rivers & Fisheries Trust, began again in spring this year.

A river watch scheme has also been developed allowing the public to report invasive species, fresh water pearl mussel poaching, species sightings and many other topics.

The launch of the website - www.theriversouthesk.org - also marked the end of the first year of implementation of actions outlined in the South Esk catchment management plan.

Angus Council planning spokesman Councillor David May said: “The River South Esk catchment is of immense importance to Angus and I am delighted that the council and its partners are working together to manage this important resource.

“The launch of the website will not only keep members of the public up to date on what has been achieved so far, but will also outline the actions which will guide the future management of activities within the catchment area. The support of the public is invaluable in supporting this work, and the website also contains information on ways that residents can play their part in protecting this unique area.”